Looking through the current FLCs, I see the same types of lists being nominated. I get the feeling that people are just reaching for the low hanging fruit and working on the easy FLs. [...] It's frustrating that people are aiming so low. In many cases, pages are created (some with questionable notability) and brought to FL, whereas I would prefer to see more users improve existing pages. And the reason we are getting so many FLs in certain topics is because of how easy it has become to get them promoted. The problem is that they seem to exist just so they can become FLs.
In an essay titled "State of the FL process",Featured List (FL) director Scorpion0422 expressed concern about the overall quality of the FL process, saying the lack of a criterion that focused on stand-alone lists was a problem and that, although some lists were technically eligible for FL status, they did not need to be split off from the parent articles and therefore did not represent Wikipedia's "best work". He also attributed a decline in quality to a lack of Featured List Candidates (FLC) reviewers (an ongoing problem in other content review processes), lack of variety in Featured Lists, and, at times, lack of directorial oversight of the process.
In particular, Scorpion0422 highlighted two types of FLs that "hurt the process":
"Easy FLs" – Lists that users nominate primarily to gain featured credits rather than for readers' benefit.
Recreations of lists from parent articles – Sublists that recreate content of their main articles without providing further detail.
Featured lists that Scorpion0422 considered did not meet the current criteria are listed at User:Scorpion0422/FL audit, categorized according to issues. He posted the results at the FLC discussion page, noting that numerous FLs (nearly 20% as of 25 March 2009) did not meet the FL criteria at the time. Dweller, a former FL director, disagreed with some of the conclusions.
Usefulness – With the number of small lists growing, some believed that the criteria allowed for content forks to become Featured Lists. The usefulness criteria was meant to establish that a FL had to be worthy of a stand-alone list and not recreated content from another article.
Length – Several discussions have been raised over whether smaller lists truly represent Wikipedia's best work. There has been an unofficial limit of ten items enforced by reviewers, but no hard limit had been established. Due to the varying types and formats of FLs, establishing a hard, enforcable limit is difficult, and a proposed criterion stated that "exceptions must be discussed beforehand on a case-by-case basis".
Lead sentence – Before changes at FLC and MoS, a number of FLs started with "this is a list of ..." A number of current FLs still start in this fashion, so a proposal was made to clarify the manner in which FLs should begin. However, it was dropped because the criteria already required an FL to have an "engaging lead section", making the proposed clarification redundant.
After more than two weeks of discussion and four proposed drafts of the new FL criteria, the following changes were implemented:
3 (b) "In length and/or topic, it meets all of the requirements for stand-alone lists; it is not a content fork, does not largely recreate material from another article, and could not reasonably be included as part of a related article."
This criterion change had the largest impact; its implementation meant that dozens of current FLs no longer met standards.
5 (b) "It has images and other media, if appropriate to the topic, that follow Wikipedia's usage policies, with succinct captions or "alt" text. Non-free images and other media satisfy the criteria for the inclusion of non-free content and are labeled accordingly."
New FLRC delegate
On April 5, The Rambling Man was named co-delegate of Featured List Removal Candidates (FLRC), filling the spot vacated by Dweller in January. Delegates determine the exact timing of the process for each review. Sephiroth BCR had served as the sole delegate for several months because the low number of reviews did not necessitate a second delegate.
An administrator and bureaucrat, The Rambling Man's first Featured List was List of Italian football champions, promoted on April 26, 2007. He has since successfully nominated 18 FLs. In May 2008, he was appointed one of the first co-directors of the Featured List process (see related story). He served as director until September 2008, when he resigned to travel. The Rambling Man returned not long after the revised criteria discussion started. With the revised criteria close to being implemented, it was decided that a second delegate would be able to help control the potential increase in activity. The Rambling Man accepted the FLRC delegate position; approval for this appointment was unanimous.
New nomination process
On May 1, a new FLC and FLRC nomination process based on stable subpages was implemented (see related story).